Last month, Transition Palo Alto received the most wonderful letter from Christine Sefton, a member of the Eden Project Communities Team in Cornwall, UK. She wanted to let us know about their Share Fairs, and how similar they are to our own Share Faires. We have responded, of course, and are beginning what should be a great conversation around the simultaneous development of great ideas across a vast ocean. We thought we would share Christine’s letter with you – with her blessing – for your own inspiration:
My colleague sent me a link to your November 2017 Share Faire event because she knew I’d be massively interested…which I am. It seems we have come to the same conclusion and created the same community project.
I am based in Cornwall, UK at the Eden Project and am part of the Eden Project Communities Team. For the last 18 months I’ve been developing Share Fairs (which sound very similar, if not exactly the same as, your own). So far there have been piloted 25 Share Fair events across England and Northern Island, engaging approximately 2,000 people and four of our pilot Share Fairs are set to continue into 2018. Some of these events have been stand-alone, others have been part of bigger carnivals or festivals. We’ve held Share Fairs in town centres, village greens and council parks. Many have been big community events with 100s attending, others have been more intimate – all have been positive.
We describe Share Fairs as social events a bit like an old-fashioned market or village fete but instead of buying and selling, people swap and share in a pop-up, money-free zone. Alongside sharing and swapping items such as clothes and books, people also share skills, stories, ideas, information and above all company. Instead of making financial capital, a Share Fair is about building community and creating social capital.
A Share Fair is also a process of empowerment. For community spirit to thrive, communities need to come together and enjoy regular, positive, shared experiences. Equally important, is the collaborative effort that goes into creating and developing these shared experiences. So Share Fairs are more than just the event on the day – they are the opportunity for communities to work collaboratively all year round, to be the vehicle by which new community groups are formed, individuals gain confidence and skills, and service providers co-ordinate. Share Fair events provide the focus, but the collaborative effort that goes into developing the event, is why Share Fairs have the potential to create enduring positive change and the opportunity for communities to tell new and positive stories about themselves.
Our facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/ mksharefair/ and our twitter account is @SHAREeFAIR and here are some films we made:
What I shall be doing next is gathering evidence about Share Fairs and exploring how to gain the necessary funding to support more communities to start Share Fairs.
I’m really interested in your Share Faire story and hope you can let me know all about your project and ambitions.
All the very best.